Gathering SMART Information
All modern hard drives keep SMART information which can be used to quickly tell if a hard drive has had any reliability events so far during its life.
The third party utility below allows you to read SMART information from a hard drive in a DOS environment. This means that the system does not have to be booted or logged into Windows.
Analysing At the Results
Look at the following values to identify a failing drive or a drive that requires further testing:
If the drive shows perfect health (i.e. zero for all of the above values) then it is likely to be a drive in good working order. If the drive has problems, run the manufacturer's dianostic test to see if it has reached the manufacturer's failure threshold, which could be lower than the drives overall "SMART failure" threshold.
The table below illustrates the possible differences between a drive that could pass SMART but fail the manufacturer's test (50 reallocated sectors in the example) or it may pass the manufacturer's test but have definite problems and will likely fail (20 reallocated secotrs in the example).